“It’s very peaceful,” my sister told me. “Just go and you’ll see what I mean.”
My dad died nine months ago and I had yet to visit his grave at St. Francis Cemetery. I’m still very emotional at the mention of his name, the memory of his voice and roughness of his cheek when I would kiss him goodbye. I know many of you can relate. I thought standing at his headstone would take me to a deeper level of sadness, and I didn’t want to go there.
A dear friend of mine, who lost her son five years ago, recently had a party where all the family and friends made beautiful painted rocks to put at his grave. I felt maybe I could do the same in honor of my dad’s birthday, and set them at his resting place. It never happened.
Monday night, I chewed on my thumbnail as I wrestled to write an essay. I finally began to type and get in my groove when I heard my dad say “KATHY!” – the same way he would call my name from across the house. I jumped in my chair – it startled me! Next thing I knew, the essay just flowed from my fingertips like water from a pitcher. That moment became the inspiration for the piece. I went to bed content.
I think that experience triggered an event the next day…
Yesterday afternoon, my mother-in-law called and right before we hung up she mentioned she was headed to St. Francis’ to leave flowers at her parents’ graves.
“Are you coming this way?” I asked.
“No, just taking the freeway,”
“Okay, well, I’ll talk to you soon, bye!”
“Why?” I repeated.
“Why did you want to know if I was going in your direction?” she asked.
“Oh, I thought maybe I’d go with you…” I said, figuring it wasn’t meant to be.
“Actually, you just reminded me that I need to pick up the flowers from Darla’s, I will be going your way. I’ll call you when I’m almost there.”
My heart raced. Not quite to the point of a panic attack, but a few notches lower. She picked me up, we drove across town to St. Francis’ and parked in front of the area where my dad was buried. I took a deep breath and wandered around until I found his plot. I didn’t break down or sob. My sister was right.
My mother-in-law walked up and handed me a bouquet of hot pink flowers to put in the vase. Okay, most people would think “hot pink flowers for Dave Cano?” I couldn’t help but smile. The flowers were the SAME color of the ring I wear of his. It made me laugh a little and I snapped this picture.
I knew he was happy that I visited and that’s why I didn’t feel sad. He loved company, especially during the hospital days. His face would brighten up as soon as any of us crossed the doorway. I think he loved that we brought the vibe of our busy, adventurous lives into his cozy corner.
After I set the flowers in the vase and talked to him in my head, we got in the car and drove to another area of the cemetery for my mother-in-law’s parents’ graves. We parked, she popped open the trunk and removed the lid to a large plastic bin full of all kinds of silk flowers and fake Easter eggs. She loaded up her arms and we made the rounds to Patrick’s Grandma Minnie, Grandpa Greg, Aunt Socorro, and our friend Andie.
As she arranged the bouquets in each one, adding the colorful eggs in all the right spots, I looked around the cemetery. There were flowers everywhere in all kinds of beautiful shades. I realized that the only time I ever went to St. Francis’ was for a burial. I never noticed the flowers on the graves. They are all part of the process of grieving and moving forward.
Now I feel inspired to paint those rocks for my dad and set them at his headstone. I know he would like them very much. ☺Love & light,